Christology and the Atonement: The Fathers Anselm and Abelard

I. The Satisfaction theory of the atonement (Anselm of Canterbury)

Anselm and Abelard

A. Background: medieval feudalism, honor

  • Medieval feudalism and chivalry, Dishonor can be satisfied with blood

Anselm’s treatise is a thought experiment. It fits the Christ of the Creeds

  • God’s honor = sin creates a debt of honor. “Every sin is necessary followed by satisfaction or punishment” Cur Deus Homo

If nothing happens to either of these. We say this is unjust? “Lex tailonis” is better than no justice at all. Anselm would say that since Jesus satisfies through atonement. There is no punishment

B. Narrative details: from aut poena aut satisfactio to a God-Man

  • Adam’s sin violates God’s honor. God must be repaid or punish, yet not give up!
  • What is the honorable solution? Adam must repay the debt of honor.

C. Anselm’s method: the role of reason and faith

  • Arguing from “necessary reasons” An inductive Christology. (Examples)

The Chalcedonian Christ, Why the virgin birth, Why the mediator died, you’ve really seen a free will until you’ve seen Jesus’. His will is focused. Try to go a day without sin, Jesus will follow focus per nano second.

  • Does Anselm bind God to necessity? Analogy as the measure of “fitness” God can smash the sinners flat or redeem the sin. Revelation and human understanding.

D. The “Example of Divine Love” theory of atonement (Peter Abelard)

Abelard’s rejection of Christus Victor and ransom

  • Overemphasis on the role of the Devil
  • Neglects the injustice of Satan. If this is the case, then Satan ought to make repayment.

Abelard’s critique of Satisfaction

  • Anselm distorts God’s character
  • Unreasonable to demand the death of someone who is innocent

Abelard’s motive: to make psychological sense out of the death of Jesus

  • Our cold hearts are the problem
  • God’s love moves and redeems us
  • The Problem of Abelard’s theology is that there is no threat? (It’s sort of 19th century liberalism.)